Nellie Bly, Book 4
Synopsis: History, mystery, and murder are the traveling companions of Nellie Bly, the world’s first female investigative reporter. In Carol McCleary’s No Job for a Lady, Nellie defies the wrath of her editor and vengeful ancient gods while setting out to prove a woman has what it takes to be a foreign correspondent in dangerous Victorian times.
Pyramids, dark magic, and dead bodies are what the intrepid Nellie encounters when she takes off for Mexico after her editor refuses to let her work as a foreign correspondent because “it’s no job for a lady.”
It’s 1886 and Mexico has not cast off all its bloodthirsty Aztec past. Among the towering pyramids in the ghost city of Teotihuacán, Nellie is stalked by ruthless killers seeking Montezuma’s legendary treasure and an ancient cult that resorts to the murderous Way of the Aztec to protect it.
Nellie travels with Gertrude Bell, who will go on to be called Queen of the Desert for her later exploits in Egypt, as well as the most glamorous and beautiful woman of the era, Lily Langtry, consort to the Prince of Wales. Along for the ride is a young gunfighter called the Sundance Kid. And there’s the mysterious Roger Watkins, who romantically and physically challenges Nellie’s determination to be an independent woman in a man’s world.
Review: As soon as I read the synopsis of the story it made me think of a series of books that I love: the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Taking the book, I was convinced that it was a first volume and when I finally discovered that we had here a Volume 4, I started to worry a little bit. Yet if we look at the blurbs of the other volumes, we can see that this volume is set earlier than the others, which therefore does not pose any problems. I also wonder now if it is not better to start with this one, but I could only really know that after reading the rest of the series. This is also something I’m really looking forward to do because I had a great time with this story and I look forward to rediscover Nellie in some new adventures.
Nellie has always dreamed of being an independent woman and to pursue the career she has chosen. Yet it is difficult to assert herself in a man’s world, in a world that denigrates women’s work but Nellie is determined to realize her dream. After being hired by a newspaper and having worked a little with them, she decides she wants more and offers to go to Mexico to write papers. Unfortunately, her boss is very far from accepting this fact as it’s no job for a lady. Nellie therefore decides to leave without his consent but convinced that he will publish the articles she would send if they are good. Leaving alone on this new adventure, her world will be completely messed up. Between wacky situations, vengeful gods, people who disappear and a treasure that everyone wants, Nellie will really have many things to do. Thus she will discover and meet a lot of players who will have a great impact on her life. Indeed, we meet Gertrude, a young woman who is also seeking independence but traveling with her uncle, a consul in Mexico. Roger, a so-called historian who finds himself in completely funny situations throughout the novel. Sundance, this cowboy who seems strangely interested in the girl; and Lily and her companion, two celebrities which everyone tries to uncover the secrets.
I really had a wonderful time with this novel and Nellie. We can easily understand her desire for freedom, her desire for independence, to prove she is as good as any men. Yet her journey will not be easy, between the rumors spread about her, all the characters who are strangely interested in her even if she does not understand why. It will be very difficult to know to whom she can trust and after all the events, it is true that I understand that. I doubted at least once about each of the characters and I found that the author had us perfectly led by the nose throughout the story. Oh yes, because some revelations have really taken me by surprise, including the real identities of the characters. I confess that the one for which we have the most questions is none other than Roger, the man who infuriates Nellie at the highest point but well she also makes him pay a lot too. He is so much annoying but also always here to help our heroine when she needs it. We greatly have from the beginning a lot of questions about him and we want to understand who he really is and what he wants from our heroine but it was not until the end of the story that we really understand everything.
I have a soft spot for everything about archeology and ancient cultures. Knowing that the author here presents Aztec history, I took a great pleasure in discovering all the details that we were given. I must say that all takes an important place in the history and I was very curious to learn more. Another point should be noted about the story as Carol McCleary offers us something very original here. Indeed, we have repeatedly drawings, excerpts from articles throughout the chapter, all stored in very short chapters, allowing us to read the novel very quickly. When I discovered at the end of the novel that all the mentioned characters had existed in real life, I thought it was fascinating. Even if everything is finally fictionalized and a little changed (or at least that’s what I understood), it is possible to know their lives at the end of the volume as well as some of their photos. I really loved the idea, it helps us to put faces to names and to immerse ourselves even more in the series.
As I said at the beginning of the novel, I did not read the other volumes but I am very eager to do it now and to know more about Nellie, to see if we’ll meet once again the characters we discovered here including Roger or Gertrude because as I said, the first novel takes place three years later. In any case I was completely conquered here and I hope to read more very soon. The Elizabeth Peters fans will be delight with this story!